The Monstrosity of the Allegations against “Team Bergoglio” = Cardinal Bergoglio is not the Pope

Rome, Dec. 12, 1014:  The monstrosity of the allegations made by Dr. Austen Ivereigh in his new book, The Great Reformer: Francis and the making of a Radical Pope boggle the mind.  As this blog has noted in its previous report, the text of the narrative in chapter 9 of that book, implicates as many as 30 Cardinal electors in activity which seems likely to violate the papal law on Conclaves, Universi Dominici Gregis (here after UDG), promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1996.

In that law, in paragraph 81, all forms of vote canvassing which include vote promising were punished with automatic excommunication (latae sententiae).  Yet canons 1329 and 1331 expand that penalty and indicate the consequences, even if the validity of the Conclave’s vote for Cardinal Bergoglio is not put in question by means of canon 171 §2, as this blog has speculated from the beginning. Let’s take a look then at these 2 canons.

The effects of Canon 1329: not only Cardinal Electors, but all accomplices

The From Rome blog has noted in its reports that the punishment was leveled only against Cardinals who could vote. However, the monstrosity of the allegation grows from the fact that Canon 1329 § 2 extends the effects of the penalty issued in UDG 81.

Canon 1329, § 2 reads, in the Latin:

Can. 1329§2. In poenam latae sententiae delicto adnexam incurrunt complices,qui in lege vel praecepto non nominantur, si sine eorum opera delictum patratum non esset, et poena sit talis naturae, ut ipsos afficere possit; secus poenis ferendae sententiae puniri possunt.

The official English translation of this, from the Vatican website is:

§2. Accomplices who are not named in a law or precept incur a latae sententiae penalty attached to a delict if without their assistance the delict would not have been committed, and the penalty is of such a nature that it can affect them; otherwise, they can be punished by ferendae sententiae penalties.

Thus, not only are the Cardinal Electors who sought vote-promises and those Cardinal Electors who promised votes in danger of excommunication from UDG 81, but also all those who assisted in this, such as:

  1. The aged Italian Cardinal, whom Ivereigh alleges tallied the votes, since without his assistance the conspiracy could not measure its success and by means of this count were encouraged to engage in the alleged illicit activities.
  2. A Cardinal-non-Elector, such as the alleged ring-leader, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, since in providing direction and organization for a conspiracy, the head of it assists in a manner in which the crimes could not have been committed as regards specific acts or their numerosity.  This is true even if the head of a conspiracy does not do the act which is criminalized.
  3. Any Cardinal, Bishop, Priest, or layman who assisted as messengers or solicitors between those asking for votes and those promising them.
  4.  Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, inasmuch as if he knew of the conspiracy, could have prevented it by signifying his unwillingness to allow such a campaign to go forward, which he could have done by merely threatening to reveal it during the Conclave; for knowledge of a conspiracy from which one benefits along with omission of all acts sufficient to bring such a conspiracy to naught or gravely obstruct it, is complicity before or during the act.  And no such conspiracy could succeed, without such at least tacit consent, since every Cardinal Elector upon being asked for his vote, could have confirmed the consent of Cardinal Bergoglio to such a campaign by asking him personally and directly.  That the alleged campaign go forward, therefore argues that it had some sort of consent from the Cardinal.

This might explain why in both denials of Dr. Ivereigh’s narrative, the spokeswoman for Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor and the spokesman for the Holy Father, Fr. Frederico Lombardi, S. J., have explicitly denied that Cardinal Bergoglio was asked by any of the Cardinals for his consent to the vote-campaigning.

The enormity of this implication is seen when we apply the effects of Canon 1331.

Canon 1331 requires that an excommunicated Pope-elect never exercise or hold office

Canon 1331 explains the effects of all excommunications latae sententiae. In the official English version, from the Vatican website this canon reads:

Can. 1331 §1. An excommunicated person is forbidden:

  1. to have any ministerial participation in celebrating the sacrifice of the Eucharist or any other ceremonies of worship whatsoever;
  2. to celebrate the sacraments or sacramentals and to receive the sacraments;
  3. to exercise any ecclesiastical offices, ministries, or functions whatsoever or to place acts of governance.

§ 2. If the excommunication has been imposed or declared, the offender:*

  1. who wishes to act against the prescript of §1, n. 1 must be prevented from doing so, or the liturgical action must be stopped unless a grave cause precludes this;
  2. invalidly places acts of governance which are illicit according to the norm of §1, n. 3;
  3. is forbidden to benefit from privileges previously granted;
  4. cannot acquire validly a dignity, office, or other function in the Church;
  5.  does not appropriate the benefits of a dignity, office, any function, or pension, which the offender has in the Church.

Which means, that if Dr. Ivereigh’s allegations are true, and if Cardinal Bergoglio had knowledge of the conspiracy and expressly or tacitly consented to it, then he would be incapable of holding the office of Pope, or making any acts which pertain to that office, such as nominate bishops, call Synods, or name Cardinals!

______________________

* That penalties of excommunication which are leveled automatically (latae sententiae) by a general decree are imposed in the very act of the commission of the criminalized activity, can be had from canon 1314. Some canonists wish to restrict the term “imposed” [imponere] only to penalties leveled by a specific written decree naming the individual(s) — but that violates the signification of the Latin verb, which means “to place upon” (in the same sense as we say in English, “leveled”), not “declared or indicated in by a specific decree” — not to mention it also ignores the patent distinction made in canon 1314.  In any case, the Church could not endure such a situation, and the Sacred College of Cardinals in a special consistory would have the necessity, in virtue of the authority granted them in UDG 5, of resolving the matter and/or proceeding to a new election.

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4 Ways the “Team Bergoglio” Revelations undo Francis’ papacy

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio takes the vow of secrecy at opening of the 2013 Conclave (BBC, screenshote by From Rome blog, cropped)

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio takes the vow of secrecy at opening of the 2013 Conclave (BBC, screenshote by From Rome blog, cropped)

Editorial — Rome, Dec. 7, 2014:  The scandalous and shocking revelations regarding the manipulation of the electoral process during the recent conclave, which elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Roman Pontiff, have cut and the very heart of confidence in the papacy of Pope Francis.  While this blog, From Rome, has refrained for 2 weeks from editorializing on the news, in this post, on the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, it seems proper to draw out the moral and political consequences of Dr. Austen Ivereigh’s revelations for the Catholic World.

As we recalled yesterday:

The Church according to the oft declared teaching of Pope Francis, himself, should not be a place where the powerful silence the weak or hide behind their offices like aristocratic princes, concerning whom no action can be questioned and nothing untoward be imputed, regardless of whether it is true.  For this reason, the “Team Bergoglio” story, whose history has been chronicled here at this blog (see here), represents one of the greatest challenges to the integrity, transparency and honesty of the Bergoglian papacy, if not its very validity in law.

Yet, as that chronicle details, the revelations and denials and the alterations of the narrative published by Dr. Ivereigh, for the reasons Ivereigh gave on his twitter feeds and in recent reports, belie that image.

First of all, because the foundation of popular confidence in any modern government is the fulfilled expectation of fairness in the highest levels of government.  Catholics the world-over, especially those from the more influential, affluent West, who keep the Vatican supplied with funds in the form of alms, have a deep conviction that the selection of the Pope should follow the rules and seek a candidate in an honest manner.  A short-cut of those rules, by a cleverly manipulated maneuver destroys that confidence.  The point is not so much whether such things happened in the past: the whole tenor of ecclesiastical politics since Vatican II has been to break with the traditions of the past, in the name of greater conformity of the Gospel. A return to the carnal machinations of medieval times, thus, will only redound to a loss of respect and confidence in the Papacy of Cardinal Bergoglio.

The disgust at such politic-ing prior to the Conclave was most eloquently expressed by one anonymous commentator, days ago, when he wrote:

A former member of a religious order with American and European members told me that everyone was instructed not to caucus before the order’s elections, and the Americans dutifully complied. Oddly enough, even though the Americans were a majority, the leadership elected was always European. After he left, another former priest who was French confided that the Europeans ALWAYS caucused.

Thus, if the papal law on elections of the Roman Pontiff, known by its Latin title, Universi Dominic Gregis (UDG), specifies that there is to be no vote canvassing of any kind in n. 81 of that document, the advantage had by those who do canvass for votes, is immeasurable, so long as every penalty which could arise from such a high-crime can be avoided.

And it is just that, which every “Team Bergoglio” apologist who has come out of the wood-work in recent days, has advocated:  total impunity for violation of the rules of the Conclave.

This impunity would arise, if UDG 81 imposed a penalty which had no effect as regards the general ecclesiastical law expressed in canon 171, which would otherwise nullify elections in which those penalized by UDG 81 with excommunication participated under the conditions it details.  For if the rules when violated infer upon the guilty no canonical effect, then there are the greatest motives to violate the Conclave rules by all means possible and necessary to get your candidate elected.  Something equivalent, in a perverse sense, to the addage, the victor takes all.

Rules will always be observed by the conscientious; therefore, a just and orderly society must punish severely those who do not follow the rules, for otherwise, the criminal will be advantaged by the mere existence of rules not enforced. And this is diametrically opposed to end for which rules and laws are promulgated.

Second, the discrepancies in the carefully worded denials of Dr. Ivereigh’s claims makes it appear that the claims are true.  This is simple logic.  What Dr. Ivereigh recounts in his book on Pope Francis, The Great Reformer: the Making of a Radical Pope, is given in a straight-forward, matter-of-fact manner, without any intention or motive to make Cardinal Bergoglio appear to be anything other than he is.  It is for that reason a book to be valued for all future historians who wish to know Bergoglio the man.  And for that reason, the testimony of Dr. Ivereigh has a high probity to it.  This probity is the higher in the case of the “Team Bergoglio” allegations, because, as this blog has demonstrated, Dr. Ivereigh was present in Rome for the Conclave in 2013, both before and afterwards, and during that time he confessed to have met with Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, the alleged head of “Team Bergoglio”.  Even the Cardinal himself, as reported here at the From Rome blog, admits to having lead the effort to get Bergoglio elected, and to have had confidence in that effort as of March 12, 2014.

Thus the claim by the English Cardinal, issued by his spokeswoman, Maggie Doherty, in the form of a letter to the editor, in the Nov. 25 Monday edition of the Telegraph newspaper is beyond belief for its form and content.  In it, Doherty declares that the English Cardinal did not obtain the assent of Cardinal Bergoglio to campaign for him.  Who is there, in the entire world, who thinks that Cardinals of the Roman Church, renowned for their sense of propriety and good-manners, would ever canvass for votes prior to asking the prospective candidate for his consent? Why would a Cardinal spend so much time organizing such an effort, if the candidate himself had not expressed formal explicit consent?  And why would any Cardinals cooperate with Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor in such a campaign, if he had told them that Cardinal Bergoglio had not given his consent.  There were no restrictions on movement during the Conclave: any Cardinal could have confirmed with Cardinal Bergoglio his views on such a matter.  If Cardinal Bergoglio did not give his assent by word or sign, the campaign would never have gotten off the ground. For these reasons the denial given by Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, if it is not entirely false, must be wholly misleading:  consent must have been given, those asking for such a consent and those giving it, therefore, must either be those denied for having done so, or intermediaries which they chose for this purpose, so as to provide a plausible deniability to the affair.

The carefully worded denial, issued by means of unofficial channels by Fr. Frederico Lombardi leads to the same conclusion.  That denial, in our own unofficial English translation from the Italian, declared in Fr. Lombard’s name:

I can declare that all of the four Cardinals, just named, explicitly deny this description of the facts, both as much as regards the request of prior consent on the part of Cardinal Bergoglio, and as much as regards the conduction of a campaign for his election, and (that) they desire to be known that they are stupefied and opposed to what has been published.

For it is morally impossible that Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor by himself could have conducted such a campaign, as he and the Pope both admitted to (reported in the Wall Street Journal article from August 6, 2013) without the assistance of other Cardinals.  And as the English Cardinal admitted in his interview with the Catholic Herald last year, he was recognized by the newly elected Pope for having been chiefly responsible.  The claims, therefore, by his former secretary, who admitted publicly to having had meet with his former boss, “the other day”, in his March 12, 2013 BBC appearance, that he did organize it in company with other Cardinals cannot be dismissed.  Especially since another report, by journalists of the Wall Street Journal, published in August of 2013, expressly names Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor and another alleged member of “Team Bergoglio”, Cardinal O’Malley of Boston, USA, as having attended a dinner for the express purpose of discussing candidates for the Papal Throne in the days prior to the Conclave’s opening on March 12th.  Thus, one arrives as the same conclusion as before:  the denial given by Fr. Lombardi must be discounted as either entirely false, or wholly misleading.  The manner in which it was given, though a blog, rather than in the presence of journalists accredited to the Vatican, makes it appear also, as being given to squelch further inquiry, rather than to truthfully put a false controversy to an end. Finally, no denials have been issued regarding other alleged members of “Team Bergoglio”: Cardinals O’Malley and Santos Abril y Castello.

Third, since the very nature of the Catholic Church is a society internally bound together by the mutual and voluntary commitment of it members, the consequences of grave and substantial doubt, as has been raised by the “Team Bergoglio” scandal will be the diminishing of and/or unraveling of such unity of moral commitment.  This is because, before God, Catholics believe deeply that they are not obliged to obey a superior who does not hold his office legitimately, in accord with the fundamental rules of the Church, known as Canon Law.  This is especially true, when a superior commands something which subjects believe or recognize as incoherent with the Catholic Faith.  The revelations of Dr. Ivereigh add to this, since the whole purpose of his book is to show that the former Cardinal Archbishop of Buenas Aires has spent his entire ecclesiastical career promoting a concept of faith which is completely at odds with that which has been taught by the Catholic Church for 2000 years:  a non-dogmatic pratical approach, which would promise salvation to all without any —or at least much less — necessary discipleship to Christ Jesus as teacher of truth, doctrine or morals.

Fourth, since as much as the Catholic faithful, especially clergy and religious come to believe that the results of the 2013 Conclave are invalidated by the machinations of “Team Bergoglio”, expressly penalized with excommunication by UDG 81, the more opportunity will arise for outright rebellion and schism in the Church against the rule of Pope Francis.  For if he is not validly elected, and if the members of “Team Bergoglio” are excommunicated, then Catholics must refuse communion with them all.

For all these reasons, we believe that the truth of the “Team Bergoglio” affair needs to be revealed and a most severe punishment needs to be leveled; and all doubt as to the validity of Pope Francis’ election must be removed.  And there seems no way to do that, in a manner that would be acceptable to all, unless as UDG n. 5 lays out, the College of Cardinals is convened in special consistory, into which Pope Francis enters with the humility necessary to abdicate if necessary.  For there is no greater love, than to lay down one’s papacy for the sake of the salvation of the consciences of the weak little lambs in Christ’s Fold.

For a complete list of our coverage on Team Bergoglio and a list of reports from major news outlets the world over on it, see here.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Conner admits Pope Francis recognized his leadership of “Team Bergoglio”

Catholic Herald, Sept 12, 2014: Online edition (Screen Shot by From Rome blog)

Catholic Herald, Sept 12, 2014: Online edition (Screen Shot by From Rome blog)

Dec. 6, 2014: In a letter to the editor of the Monday edition of the Telegraph, Nov. 25th last, the former Cardinal of Westminster strongly denied that he had asked Cardinal Bergoglio to assent to a vote-lobbying campaign in his favor and the involvement of Cardinals in that effort, known as “Team Bergoglio”.

But, in a stunning revelation, published by Miguel Cullen in the Catholic Herald, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, and entitled,  Pope sent greetings to the Queen straight after his election, says cardinal, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor had already contradicted his own denial, when he confessed to being the ring-leader of what Dr. Ivereigh nick-named, “Team Bergoglio”, and admited that Pope Francis recognized this, just 2 days after the conclusion of the Conclave in 2013.

The key passages of that report read:

The cardinal also disclosed that he had spoken to the future Pope as they left the Missa pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice, the final Mass before the conclave began on March 12.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said: “We talked a little bit. I told him he had my prayers and said, in Italian: ‘Be careful.’ I was hinting, and he realised and said: ‘Si – capisco’ – yes, I understand. He was calm. He was aware that he was probably going to be a candidate going in. Did I know he was going to be Pope? No. There were other good candidates. But I knew he would be one of the leading ones.”

The admissions of the Cardinal in that report blow a hole in the hull of the denial, issued by Maggie Doherty, his spokeswoman, just 2 weeks ago, whereby he denied involvement and denied Cardinal Bergoglio knew about the vote-canvassing.

That Pope Francis knew about the Cardinal’s leadership in “Team Bergoglio” is admitted by the Cardinal in the same report, where it says:

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said: “All the cardinals had a meeting with him in the Hall of Benedictions, two days after his election. We all went up one by one. He greeted me very warmly. He said something like: ‘It’s your fault. What have you done to me?’ 

For a time-line of reports about “Team Bergoglio” from sources round the world, as well as by this blog, see here.

Ivereigh knew of UDG 81 on March 12, 2013

BBC Live broadcast on March 12, 2013 at 17:03, with Dr. Austen Ivereigh and Msgr. Mark Langham

BBC Live broadcast on March 12, 2013 at 17:03, with Dr. Austen Ivereigh and Msgr. Mark Langham (Sreen shot by From Rome blog).

Rome, Dec. 6, 2014:  Since the news that the new book by Dr. Austen Ivereigh, former spokesman for the Cardinal of Westminster, Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, contained allegations that a group of Cardinals canvassed for the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, numerous news outlets the world over have covered the story.  The group of 4 to 7 Cardinals, whom Ivereigh nicknames, “Team Bergoglio”, “shocked and disappointed” by the revelations have take the extreme action of having Fr. Frederico Lombardi issue a carefully worded denial through the Italian News Blog, Il Sismografo (published by co-workers from Radio Vaticana).

The probity of Dr. Ivereigh’s testimony concerning the vote-canvassing campaign has been subject to question the world over in the last 2 weeks.  For this reason, the From Rome blog considers it important to publish information regarding other sources which corroborate or disprove Dr. Ivereigh’s allegations, to shed further light on which of the two parties Dr. Ivereigh or the Cardinals are telling the truth.

The Church according to the oft declared teaching of Pope Francis, himself, should not be a place where the powerful silence the weak or hide behind their offices like aristocratic princes, concerning whom no action can be questioned and nothing untoward be imputed, regardless of whether it is true.  For this reason, the “Team Bergoglio” story, whose history has been chronicled here at this blog (see here), represents one of the greatest challenges to the integrity, transparency and honesty of the Bergoglian papacy, if not its very validity in law.

Ivereigh knew of UDG 81 before the Conclave of 2013 began

That Dr. Ivereigh’s testimony in the print edition of his book has great probity, arises not only from the fact that he is former secretary to the very Cardinal who is implicated as the point-man for “Team Bergoglio” (Murphy-O’Connor), but also from the fact that he personally covered the news of the 2013 Conclave, blogging about it for Our Sunday Visitor and speaking on Television for the BBC.  The video excerpt was posted on YouTube by Catholic Voices on February 22, 2014, ostensibly by Dr. Ivereigh himself.

In a telling report, filed by the BBC on March 12, 2013, the day before the Conclave began, Dr. Ivereigh shows himself knowledgeable of the papal rule forbidding canvassing for votes.

The interview took place at 17:03 local time, during the very act in which the Cardinal Electors took their vows to uphold the secrecy of the Conclave.  Among which electors is seen Cardinal Bergoglio. Interviewed are Msgr. Mark Langham and Dr. Austen Ivereigh, founder of Catholic Voices.

The BBC reporter starts the conversation with an implication which seems to suggest all which The Great Reformer, the book by Dr. Ivereigh, is saying about “Team Bergoglio”, when the former says at 0:56 minutes: The way that one would want to write about this is to talk about the intrigue and the plotting and the scheming

 At 4:30, Dr. Ivereigh admits that he knows of UDG 81’s prescription that the Cardinals are excluded from canvassing pacts, saying, The norms governing the Conclave make sure that there should be no pacts, no agreements…

And at 12:05, Dr. Ivereigh furthermore admits to having met with Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor and discussed the pre-conclave affairs.

This interview by Dr. Ivereigh thus confirms, both that he had personal first hand knowledge of the requirements of the Papal Law, as well as personal contact with one member of “Team Bergoglio” in the days in which he now claims in his book, the vote-canvassing campaign was conducted.  That makes his testimony on the affair, given in his book, of the highest probity.

Therefore, let us review again, the papal laws by which such a campaign could lead to an invalid election of the Pope.

The Terms of UDG 81, Excommunicate Electors for Voting Agreements

All who participated in the Conclave are by Pope John Paul II’s aforementioned Apostolic Constitution, Universi Dominici Gregis (UDG), paragraph 81 to avoid vote canvassing:

Let’s take a look, then, at the Latin original, to understand better how, not just any specific form of vote canvassing is a crime according to the Pope who “brought down the Wall”:

81. Cardinales electores praeterea abstineant ab omnibus pactionibus, conventionibus, promissionibus aliisque quibusvis obligationibus, quibus astringi possint ad suffragium cuidam vel quibusdam dandum aut recusandum. Quae omnia, si reapse intervenerint, etiam iure iurando adiecto, decernimus ea nulla et irrita esse, neque eadem observandi obligatione quemquam teneri; facientes contra iam nunc poena excommunicationis latae sententiae innodamus. Vetari tamen non intellegimus, ne per tempus Sedis vacantis de electione sententiae invicem communicentur.

The official English translation from the Vatican Website, renders this text, thus:

81. The Cardinal electors shall further abstain from any form of pact, agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind which could oblige them to give or deny their vote to a person or persons. If this were in fact done, even under oath, I decree that such a commitment shall be null and void and that no one shall be bound to observe it; and I hereby impose the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae upon those who violate this prohibition. It is not my intention however to forbid, during the period in which the See is vacant, the exchange of views concerning the election.

This translation is not exact.  Here is my own exact translation:¹

81. Let the Cardinal electors, moreover, abstain from all pacts, agreements, promises and any other obligations you like, by which they might be constrained to give or refuse support (suffragium) for anyone (sing. & plural).  All of which, if these were to occur, even when having sworn an oath, We decree are null and void, and none of them are to be held by any obligation of observance; those acting against (this), We now, hereby, bind up with the punishment of excommunication latae sententiae.  Yet, We do not understand to be forbidden, that they communicate with one another concerning the election, during the time of the Sedevacante.

The Terms of Canon 171, §2 Invalidate elections in which Excommunicated Electors participate

 What makes the revelations of Dr. Ivereigh so challenging to the papacy of Cardinal Bergoglio is that Canon 171 invalidates elections in which the number of votes required for victory was obtained by the counting of votes from electors who were excommunicated at the time of the voting.  This Canon sanctions not only those who sought votes, but also those who agreed to give them.  If the allegations of Dr. Ivereigh are true, then as many as 16 Cardinals, the number reported to have initially voted for Cardinal Bergoglio in the first ballot, would be suspect, and thus the final vote of 78 votes, which is only 2 more than the required 78, would be in doubt as to its validity.

Here is the official Latin text of Canon 171:

Can. 171 — § 1. Inhabiles sunt ad suffragium ferendum:

1° incapax actus humani;

2° carens voce activa;

3° poena excommunicationis innodatus sive per sententiam iudicialem sive per decretum quo poena irrogatur vel declaratur;

4° qui ab Ecclesiae communione notorie defecit.

§ 2. Si quis ex praedictis admittatur, eius suffragium est nullum, sed electio valet, nisi constet, eo dempto, electum non rettulisse requisitum suffragiorum numerum.

Here is the official English translation from the Vatican website:

Can. 171 §1. The following are effected to vote:

  • 1/ a person incapable of a human act;
  • 2/ a person who lacks active voice;
  • 3/ a person under a penalty of excommunication whether through a judicial sentence or through a decree by which a penalty is imposed or declared;
  • 4/ a person who has defected notoriously from the communion of the Church.

§ 2. If one of the above is admitted, the person’s vote is null, but the election is valid unless it is evident that, with that vote subtracted, the one elected did not receive the required number of votes.

That the Apostolic Constitution by Pope John Paul II, Universi Dominic Gregis, regulating papal elections is a decree in the sense mentioned in Canon 171 §1, n. 3, can be had from Canons 29 ff. on general decrees.

 

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¹  In paragraph 81, the term suffragium in Latin has the proper meaning of “support”, but the technical meaning of “vote”.  In English, we say that one pledges his support for a candidate, to signify that one promises to vote for him at election time.

If Ivereigh is to be believed, was Bergoglio’s election invalid?

Denial

London, Nov. 25, 2014 — A remarkable letter to the editor, if ever there was one. A denial, which draws more attention, than the matter would otherwise merit.  In today’s Daily Telegraph Letter’s Page, print edition, Maggie Doherty, the press-secretary to Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, denies a key fact in the reporting by Austen Ivereigh, a British journalist who just published a book exposing a concerted effort among Cardinals of the Roman Church to canvass for votes on behalf of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in the days prior to the Conclave of March 2013, which elected the latter as successor to Pope Benedict XVI.  The on-line edition of the Telegraph has a short story about this, by John Bingham, which opens thus:

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the former leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, helped to orchestrate a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign which led to the election of Pope Francis, a new biography claims.

The Election of Pope Francis has seen a great deal more publicity than any in modern times, especially concerning the remarkable novelty of revelations coming from Cardinals themselves — remarkable, since according to papal law, to make such revelations is punished by automatic excommunication!

The papal law is Universi Dominici Gregis, promulgated by Pope John Paul II on the Feats of the Chair of St. Peter, February 22, 1996 A.D..  The key paragraphs regarding this excommunication are as follows:

  1. Those who, in accordance with the prescriptions of No. 46 of the present Constitution, carry out any functions associated with the election, and who directly or indirectly could in any way violate secrecy — whether by words or writing, by signs or in any other way — are absolutely obliged to avoid this, lest they incur the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Apostolic See.
  2. In particular, the Cardinal electors are forbidden to reveal to any other person, directly or indirectly, information about the voting and about matters discussed or decided concerning the election of the Pope in the meetings of Cardinals, both before and during the time of the election. This obligation of secrecy also applies to the Cardinals who are not electors but who take part in the General Congregations in accordance with No. 7 of the present Constitution.

However, today’s denial regards another requirement of the papal law, regarding Conclaves: the express prohibition of canvassing for votes prior to the commencement of the Conclave.  John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution of 1996 makes that a high-crime, punishable by automatic excommunication.

  1. The Cardinal electors shall further abstain from any form of pact, agreement, promise or other commitment of any kind which could oblige them to give or deny their vote to a person or persons. If this were in fact done, even under oath, I decree that such a commitment shall be null and void and that no one shall be bound to observe it; and I hereby impose the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae upon those who violate this prohibition. It is not my intention however to forbid, during the period in which the See is vacant, the exchange of views concerning the election.
  2. I likewise forbid the Cardinals before the election to enter into any stipulations, committing themselves of common accord to a certain course of action should one of them be elevated to the Pontificate. These promises too, should any in fact be made, even under oath, I also declare null and void.
  3. With the same insistence shown by my Predecessors, I earnestly exhort the Cardinal electors not to allow themselves to be guided, in choosing the Pope, by friendship or aversion, or to be influenced by favour or personal relationships towards anyone, or to be constrained by the interference of persons in authority or by pressure groups, by the suggestions of the mass media, or by force, fear or the pursuit of popularity. Rather, having before their eyes solely the glory of God and the good of the Church, and having prayed for divine assistance, they shall give their vote to the person, even outside the College of Cardinals, who in their judgment is most suited to govern the universal Church in a fruitful and beneficial way.

The Reason for the Press-Secretary’s Denial is now manifest

If Maggie Doherty had not gone to the lengths of issuing a denial in such language, I would never have taken notice.  But now that she has, having consulted the papal law on Conclaves, it appears manifest why she has.  If Austen Ivereigh’s book contains verifiable evidence that any of the Cardinals who voted for Jorge Mario Bergoglio canvassed for votes in the manner forbidden, especially if he tacitly consented to this, then by that very fact (ipso facto) they fell under the penalty of excommunication in the same moment they agreed to do such and/or did such. And, if Bergoglio tacitly agreed (that is, had knowledge, and consented without opposing what they were doing), then he, too, would have been excommunicated prior to the Conclave.

Does this mean that the Papal election was invalid?

But if what  Austen Ivereigh alleges, did happen, would the election of Pope Francis be null and void?  The grounds for this are entirely different from those alleged in Antonio Socci’s best-selling book in Italy, Non è Francesco, (He is not Francis: i.e. he should not be called Pope Francis), which is based on the fact that on March 13, 2013, Bergoglio was elected by 5 votes, when the papal law only allows 4. Or the challenge now being brought in the Petition to the College of Cardinals, which regards 3 canonical questions which arise from the violations of the penalties imposed by the Second Council of Nicea, the Council of Trent, and Pope Paul IV.

Let us take a look at the papal law, again.  It is very important to note, what Pope John Paul II says in the previous paragraph, n. 78:

78. If — God forbid — in the election of the Roman Pontiff the crime of simony were to be perpetrated, I decree and declare that all those guilty thereof shall incur excommunication latae sententiae. At the same time I remove the nullity or invalidity of the same simoniacal provision, in order that — as was already established by my Predecessors — the validity of the election of the Roman Pontiff may not for this reason be challenged.(23)

Paragraph 78, regards the buying or selling of votes; which does not seem what Ivereigh has alleged; for when votes are bought and sold, then the validity of the election which would otherwise be worthy of doubt or challenge, is, according to Pope John Paul II’s law, free from ever being so challenged (which he does with the words: “I remove the nullity or invalidity of the same simoniacal provision”). Simony is the crime of buying or selling spiritual things, in this case, of votes, with the promise of monies paid in advance.

However, as regards, however, the excommunications leveled for canvassing, Pope John Paul II does not remove the nullity or invalidity of the election.

This leaves the question, whether the election of Pope Francis could be challenged now?

It seems at least possible, since it is not a question of the invalidity of an election on the basis of the fact that Cardinals were excommunicated on account of vote canvassing, but on account of a certain sort of coercion of the process to elect the Pope, which process must guarantee the liberty of the Cardinals to chose a Pope in a manner free from the deceits and maneuvers of worldly politics.

This doubt of the validity of the election is what seems to be implied by the Press-Secretary’s denial.  Because, if it were only a question of a Cardinal’s excommunication for violating secrecy or canvasing votes, he could easily appeal to Pope Francis to be pardoned and the excommunication lifted.  Indeed, what victorious candidate, now Pope, would not pardon the Cardinals who helped him get elected, if they did canvass for votes?  Thus, it certainly seems to the thoughtful reader, that there may be some more urgent reason for the denial. …  Cui prodest?

Addendum of Nov. 26, 3PM GT

I had a look at the general norms in the 1983 Code of Canon law regarding canonical elections and found some confirmatory information.  There in Canon 171, there are these stunning requirements for a valid election:

Can. 171 §1. The following are effected to vote:

1/ a person incapable of a human act;
2/ a person who lacks active voice;
3/ a person under a penalty of excommunication whether through a judicial sentence or through a decree by which a penalty is imposed or declared;
4/ a person who has defected notoriously from the communion of the Church.

§2. If one of the above is admitted, the person’s vote is null, but the election is valid unless it is evident that, with that vote subtracted, the one elected did not receive the required number of votes.

The importance of this Canon, I opine, is thus:  if what Ivereigh alleges in his book, is true, and the manner of canvassing votes is that penalized with automatic excommunication, then the Cardinals who did this, and Cardinal Bergoglio — if he expressly consented, as Ivereigh’s print edition says he did — would be excommunicated prior to the begining of the Conclave; and the election would be null and void, on the grounds that the 32 votes Bergolio received in the first round of voting (as reports allege, which votes are presumably nearly or mostly those who participated in the vote canvassing) would be null and void, coming as they did from excommunicated electors. That would make the 78 votes which Cardinal Bergoglio got in the final 5th vote, to be insufficient to elect him. (I am no canonist, so this is my opinion, though I have studied the tract on Canonical Censures at a Pontifical Instititute at Rome).

Postscript

Having carefully read the papal law, Universi Dominici Gregis, of Pope John Paul II, and that modification of Pope Benedict XVI, Normas nonnullas, I find it very curious that neither specifies explicitly who is eligible to be elected Pope. Even the 1983 code is silent. This is a serious deficiency, since the Bull of Pope Paul IV does specify this, and thus, if this matter is not included specifically in modern legislation, the terms of Pope Paul IV’s, Cum ex apostolatus officio, seem to remain in force. (If any canonists know, please leave a comment below, Thanks!).

FOLLOW UP REPORTS:

Nov. 27, 2014: Ivereigh + UDG 81 = A Radical Problem for Pope Francis